5.

Last Saturday, I cried on my couch because I felt alone. I realized it was irrational, like many of the wildly negative thoughts I have. I decided to go buy groceries because it calms me down; I like to cross things off my list and mimic the inky swirls my mom used to do when I watched her as a kid.

I passed The Roboto Project. I usually tense up a couple of blocks before, tightening my muscles almost to make my gut remember where it’s supposed to stay. This is only because I think of my rapist. He’s not always there. It’s literally just the association that makes my body and brain completely shut down.

That Saturday, I was lucky enough to pass on a day he was playing. I saw his band’s name on the chalkboard in front. I glanced through the window, and saw the corner of his head. I started to walk faster, almost on auto pilot, and found a side street to puke on. I went into the grocery store, eyes red and watery. My sleeves weren’t long enough to reach my mouth. I went grocery shopping anyway because I didn’t know what else to do.

I have never publicly outed my rapists because my fear outweighs everything. The aforementioned one is well-regarded in the DIY music community and everyone sees him as a roving puppy, a feminist, an man who is vehemently opposed to violence against anyone. We give men a pass if they portray themselves in all the right ways, or if they have social capital, or if they wield incredible amounts of power (as most do).

The last month and a half has been exhausting to be a rape survivor. I tried so hard not to let Facebook arguments and New York Times articles and bar conversations boa constrict around my throat but they did.

The coverage is 24/7, it has its own pulse, and behind that pulse is several thousand people who read one article and think they can make a blanket statement about what constitutes rape, assault, my humanity. I disassociated during conversations with my friends and family. I became angry at almost every Facebook status and tweet and repost and think piece.

My heart burns for every person who has come forward against their abuser, famous or not. I am them. I am with them. I encourage them.

I feel the same toward those who can not do this so publicly, who can not even speak about the situation out loud to themselves. Who can not write “me too” because they can not exist as “me”.

I heard a lot of public conversation. I participated in a lot of public conversation. I saw a lot of harrowing Facebook comment feeds that made the veins in my arms pulse.

I am sick of repeating myself, so I have written a cheat sheet to my own trauma to make it easier on the listener when I get angry.

On accusations:

Someone I used to have a crush on when I was 19 once said to me “Oh, I don’t pay attention to hearsay” when I mentioned to him I was happy to be at a show where the band was predominantly female and no one was a serial abuser. I said it when I was drunk. He kept making my drink after he said that, a well-meaning, arguably spiritual, kind, soft man. He reduced my admission of feeling safe as a testament to gossip.

Someone I used to have a crush on played a show with my rapist’s band after I told him what happened to me, then later argued with me that “I should really pay more attention to what those sort of accusations will do to a person before I open my mouth.”

Someone I used to have a crush on told me he didn’t believe any of the stories coming out about celebrities because it must have been a media induced frenzy. These women are jumping on the bandwagon for attention or money.

On disappointment: 

I don’t give a fuck about how many masturbation jokes Louis C.K. told that you laughed at on your couch, dick covered in crumbs because you forgot to wash your hands when you touched yourself to a picture of someone you don’t know. Stop putting money directly into the hands of rapists.

Many people speak about duality. Separating art from the person. Good people can do bad things. Duality, so you can repost Huffington Post articles about the wage gap, but ignore me when I say no during sex. I’m glad you can separate so you can still keep binge watching House of Cards, but there is no separation for me. I carry this violence every day.

On reputation:

“Don’t ruin someone’s reputation! These kind of accusations stick with someone forever!” Being raped sort of sticks with me forever.

On apologies:

An apology from a rapist is like slapping an Ace bandage over a fresh cut from open heart surgery.  The fabric is dripping with bacteria after the surgeon grabbed it without gloves on, but he’s done enough because the wound is covered.

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